HTC - HTC U Ultra


HTC U Ultra: between successes and disappointments

Aprox. 280€ - see price -

See specifications

HTC is returning to the forefront of the smartphone market with a new series of terminals. The lineage of One, which was still found with the HTC 10, has disappeared definitively. The U Ultra brings a breath of fresh air to the Taiwanese range, but can that be enough to bring to the fore a company that has been in bad shape for a few years?

Our review


The HTC U Ultra is the largest of the tow spearheads. Its 5.7-inch 5 WQHD Super LCD screen (2560 x 1440 px) is somewhat new. This large main screen is accompanied by a smaller display of 2.05 "diagonal, for a definition of 160 x 1040 px, allowing to display shortcuts and other notifications. The entrails of the beast contain a SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 to 4 Kryo cores (2.15 GHz ), 4 GB of RAM and an Adreno 530 iGPU. The internal memory has 64 GB and can be extended by adding a microSD card.

For capturing photos, there is a 12 Mpx Ultra Pixel sensor on the back supported by a stabilized lens opening at f / 1.8, a phase detection focus or a dual-LED flash. At the front, HTC chose a 16 MP sensor, surmounted by an optic not stabilized in f / 2 aperture. Connectivity includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and 4G LTE. The power supply for the assembly is supplied by a 3000 mAh battery, compatible with Quick Charge 3.0 technology.

For this HTC U Ultra, you will be asked € 799.


Ergonomics and design

Change of course at HTC. No more compact smartphones, make way for large sizes. The U Ultra thus lives up to its name and sports generous dimensions. In good self-respecting high-end terminal, the smartphone still benefits from exemplary finishes. The design that is introduced here, however, may not appeal to everyone.

The back of the device is made of glass, called "innovative crystal surface with elegant contours" by HTC. This slightly curved back on the edges is the most beautiful effect out of the box, with the changing color reflections depending on the light. However, after a few tens of minutes of manipulation, this back turns into a real fingerprint database. The visual effect is no longer quite the same. In hand, the shape of the U Ultra is pleasant and fits the palm correctly. On the other hand, we were many to feel our hands becoming sweaty on contact with this glass, however innovative it may be.

With such a large screen, optimizing space becomes essential. HTC has failed to contain the dimensions of its U Ultra, whose screen occupies only 69% of the front panel. The edges are quite wide, especially the bottom edge, which really gives the impression of losing space. You can't expect to fully enjoy your smartphone with one hand here. A problem that is also encountered when using the volume buttons, placed a little high on the right edge to be reached by the thumb. The lock button is much better positioned.

The U Ultra can withstand the pressure of heavy use quite badly and is showing signs of a rise in temperature. We recorded more than 43.3 ° C on a limited portion of the rear face and up to 39 ° C at the front, the screen remaining on average close to 32 ° C.

Ergonomics and design


HTC has decided to go to the big screens with this U Ultra. Here, a 5.7 inch Super LCD 5 panel is used. The WQHD definition (2560 x 1440 px) delivers a resolution of 513 ppi which offers a very fine display. The contrast ratio remains one of the only faults on this side. We measured it at 1256: 1, just fine for LCD, but far from the results obtained by Oled tiles. The maximum brightness of 463 cd / m² allows correct readability in direct sunlight, although the rate of light reflection could have been lower (14%).

The colorimetry requires some adjustments to become very good. Once the color temperature slider is moved to "warm", we obtain a delta E at 3 and an average temperature at 6443 K. Almost perfect values which place the U Ultra among the best students.

Responsiveness is quite good overall. We noted a tactile delay of 76 ms, below the average of our comparison (87 ms) and a correct remanence for the LCD (16 ms).

You can find a more detailed account of the U Ultra screen in the dedicated article.


Interface and navigation

HTC has based its U Ultra on Android 7.0 Nougat, on top of which the Taiwanese house overlay is applied. If the interface is somewhat modified graphically compared to the Google OS, the navigation logic of the smartphone remains close. We find the classics like the application menu, the panel mixing shortcuts and notifications, as well as a rather classic list of parameters.

The big news for HTC is the implementation of this additional screen which brings a new way of interacting with the smartphone. On this screen are grouped shortcuts to favorite contacts, certain applications of our choice, the weather or even incoming notifications. You can navigate between these different panels by sliding your finger on the small screen, whether the main screen is on or not. When the latter is off, you can choose to display the time there permanently, such as Always-On mode at Samsung, for example. In use, we get used to the presence of this secondary screen and, after a period of adaptation where we force ourselves to request it, we quickly find ourselves using it more regularly.

The HTC U Ultra remains perfectly fluid in all circumstances. It must be said that it is well helped by its SoC Snapdragon 821 and its 4 GB of RAM. Nothing is to blame on this side.

Interface and navigation


The behavior of the U Ultra in video is exemplary. Its large screen is perfect for reading series and even movies, and the integrated player easily decodes the vast majority of common formats.

Not only does it not have a jack, the HTC U Ultra is also supplied without an adapter - in these circumstances, it is impossible for us to apply our usual test protocols. HTC absolutely does not seem to consider that we may wish to use this phone other than with its famous USound headphones. These highlight their automatic calibration functionality: a short pink noise is sent into each ear, then transplanted by a microphone present within the earphones. This feedback is then analyzed by the telephone, which deduces an "ideal" equalization curve, adapted to the morphology of the user. The result is unfortunately not very convincing: it does not calm the very marked V-shaped frequency signature of the headphones (reinforcement of the bass and treble), which will certainly not only make people happy. Note also that the intrinsic quality of the headphones is very arbitrary: not very powerful, they offer a relatively clean sound reproduction, but not very precise, and a fairly narrow stereo image.

No more success on the side of the speakers, whose sound is unnatural and has an imbalance too marked towards the treble. Two modes of restitution are offered by the telephone, "music" and "cinema" - we advise you to carefully avoid the second, which only aggravates all these faults.

The Adreno 530 graphics chip is generally an ally of choice for lovers of mobile games. With this HTC smartphone, they will be served, the latter rotating any title from the Play Store perfectly smoothly. From casual games to more demanding 3D titles, the U Ultra turns out to be a high-performance portable console.


HTC offers here a 12 MP Ultrapixel sensor for taking photos. When there is enough light, the U Ultra does a good job overall. It manages to capture a quantity of details comparable to that of a Galaxy S7 edge and produces photographs of good quality. The dynamics are excellent, but the colors are not the most faithful, the HTC smartphone having a tendency to saturation a little too marked. The little disappointment comes from a slight lack of responsiveness, not for focusing, but for capturing photos. Latency is felt when recording, leaving the U Ultra behind cadors like the Galaxy S7 edge or the LG G5.

In low light, the picture is more mixed. On the one hand, the HTC U Ultra manages to capture a good amount of light, but it does so at the cost of a fairly marked loss of detail. In question, a treatment that smooths a lot and puts a more pronounced emphasis on contrasts. We thus end up with clearly visible forms, but poor in small details that have disappeared. Fortunately, there is no loss of reactivity under these conditions.

Recording videos with the U Ultra can be done up to a UHD definition. As almost every time, the rendering remains much more satisfactory in Full HD, the micro-slowdowns fading and the image quality does not decrease in the end not that much. The exposure measurements and monitoring of the development are for their part of good quality.

Transform its heavy library with printed paving stones of a thousand characters into a few megabytes transported in a device of a hundred ...

The 16 MP front sensor also does a good job. Like many of its competitors, the U Ultra applies to self-portraits a smoothing that we find too far, making lose the interest of the number of pixels present. However, it still ranks among the best students in the category, with a special mention for its behavior in low light conditions.


Let's say it right away, autonomy is the main weakness of the U Ultra. With his 3000 mAh battery, we expected better than the 10h20 he achieved on our viSer test protocol. This places him more than 5 hours behind a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge or even 3 hours 30 minutes behind a OnePlus 3T. A lack of endurance that is found on our video playback test on Netflix, with 8:41 of our favorite series. In practice, the HTC smartphone will be able to follow you in standard use for a little less than a day and a half. More relentless users will have to go through the recharge box before the end of the evening.

However, it takes just under an hour and a half for a full recharge of the smartphone.


HTC arrives in 2017 with a smartphone far from being devoid of interest. However, the U Ultra has a lot of small flaws that prevent it from actually playing spoilers in the hierarchy of the current smartphone market, not to mention the generation expected this year which should relegate this terminal to a secondary role.